Last month I have been busy preparing for the parish Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) which should have taken place at the end of March this year. Well as we all know so well lockdown happened and everything was put on hold. Well the APCM was finally held last week as I write and we were finally able to put the year 2019/20 to bed!
It was really rather strange trying to think back to 2019 in the light of all that has happened this year – it seemed an age ago and presented a very different picture to that we are experiencing now.
2019 was as in previous years a very full and busy year and we were enjoying very much our second year as two churches together in our combined parish of Capel and Ockley. The highlights included the restoration of the West wall in the churchyard by our stonemason and sculptor in residence (!) Shaun Williamson. Thank you to all who donated towards this work and with the shared costs with the Parish Council and other grants we were able to complete the work to which all I think will agree looks stunning. Shaun has now begun the North side of the wall so you may have seen him in the last few weeks.
We were able to do much in the way of fundraising in 2019 as well, enjoying various events such as the Capel Show barbeque and the Harvest Supper Murder Mystery plays along with the most wonderful Vicarage Fete which raised money for our schools. We also, thanks to Bob and Judy Cranham, enjoyed four wonderful concerts in church featuring jazz and folk musicians, one featured Jaqui McShee from Pentangle. We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Vanda and her team at The Crown who very generously allowed us to experiment with Cafe Church at their pub. This has been a resounding success and continues to be so. A huge thanks to Vanda, Vicky and the team and of course Gladys for allowing us entry!!
In church we loved singing from our new sponsored hymnbooks which sadly we cannot use at the moment until congregational singing is allowed again. We welcomed several visitors in 2019, one of which was the remarkable and talented Francis McFaul who is a preacher, musician and double amputee. With his lovely wife Jackie they travelled down from Scotland to join us at our Sunday worship. We were very blessed….
We also had visitors from the States; first a family from Guilford in Connecticut whose church was originally founded by the Revd Henry Whitfield, Rector of St Margaret’s Ockley in the 17th century. He led a group of pilgrims to found Guilford and the church. We then met Pastor Michael Mullins and his wife Shirley who came to visit St Margaret’s as he had traced his ancestry also back to Henry Whitfield. Their church is in Albuquerque, New Mexico and it was a pleasure to be able to welcome them in our Ockley surroundings which they were entranced with!
I have also been blessed to receive the support and ministry assistance of Graham Everness who is a Licenced Lay minister from St Pauls’s Dorking. Graham is much appreciated by us all with his leading worship and preaching. Another blessing for me personally has been the presence of some of our past incumbents who have been invited to officiate at baptisms or funerals. On one occasion three of us were together which was wonderful! Pastorally we have been blessed by Sylvie Beckett who is an authorised diocesan pastoral assistant and she quietly has visited those who have needed a listening ear. We celebrated with those who we married in our parish and with those who came to be baptised; both in fact happened at one of our weddings! And of course we have sorrowed with those who have been bereaved and we said farewell to many much loved members of our community and church family. We miss them all and give thanks for their lives. Each one is precious to us and especially precious in the sight of God.
This month of November gives us a special time to remember all those we have love who have died, at the service of comfort for the bereaved on All Souls Day and also at the Remembrance Day services in both Ockley and Capel on the 8th November. The service will be in Capel at 3pm as usual and we hope to be able to accommodate everyone safely distanced. We will be processing to the war memorial at approximately 3.40pm so do join us there if you would rather not be in church. We will be joined in marking the occasion by a smaller field gun than previously which will fire two blank charges to mark the start and finish of the two minute silence. Please see elsewhere in the magazine and local posters for more information on this.
So we say farewell properly to the year 2019/20 in our parish year – a year of great consolidation as two churches in so many different ways. We look forward to the future, even though we have like so many other organisations and businesses suffered financially and give thanks that despite the lockdown and all that has followed since, we have all risen to the task of continuing to worship and minister to those in Capel and Ockley, our wonderful villages and communities. With uncertain times ahead with Covid, we will continue to be creative and find new ways of supporting one another in church and community I am reminded of St Paul’s words:
‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. So we do not lose heart….’ 2 Corinthians 4. 8-9
With my love and prayers as ever
Post expires at 8:54pm on Wednesday November 10th, 2021